CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Republican National Convention kicked off in Charlotte Monday, and Illinois Republicans were in attendance as President Trump showed up in person to officially receive the party's nomination to be on the ballot this November.
Unlike their Democratic counterparts, Republican delegates are gathering at the convention site, although the event still has a much different feel.
The RNC kicked off with just 336 delegates gathered in Charlotte as they formally nominated the president. Those who are there and back home said they are feeling optimistic about November.
"I proudly cast 67 votes for the President and the next President of the United States, Donald J. Trump," said Illinois Republican Party Chairman Tim Schneider.
The president energized the room, impressing the two Illinois delegates in attendance.
"His speech might have been three or four pages long, but I think we got about a 30-page version of it because he talks from the heart," said Richard Porter, a Republican National Committeeman.
"This convention is going to be one of optimism, one of leading the American people," said Demetra Demonte, a Republican National Committeewoman.
Demonte had to cancel her trip to Charlotte after being exposed to someone with COVID-19 two and a half weeks ago.
She did not contract the virus and has just been invited by the President to attend his acceptance speech in Washington Thursday. She believes his pre-COVID record on the economy, and his push for law and order will make him an appealing candidate for suburban women.
"Donald Trump is a man of action," she said. "He is a man who says what he will do and he does what he says he is going to do."
Republicans downplayed concerns about the president's response to the pandemic hurting him in November.
"Well I think if you look at the facts and you don't listen to the some of the rhetoric that you're hearing, and you understand that the president protected us early on in denying people access to this country from China," Schneider said.
Republicans used politicians and regular citizens on the opening night of the convention to make the case for President Donald Trump, addressing concerns about racism, the economy and safety.
"Democrats won't let you go to church, but they'll let you protest," said U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio. "Democrats won't let you go to work, but they'll let you riot. Democrats won't let you go to school, but they'll let you go loot."
"Growing up in the Deep South, I've seen racism up close," former NFL player Herschel Walker said. "I know what it is, and it isn't Donald Trump."
Speakers Monday night also touted the president's economic policies before the coronavirus pandemic. President Trump met with essential workers in the White House, thanking them for their work.
Charlie Kirk, the president of the pro-Trump organization Turning Point USA, called the president "the bodyguard of Western civilization."
The President's law and order campaign focus got support from the St. Louis couple seen waving guns outside their homes during a Black Lives Matter protest last month.
"Not a single person in the out-of-control mob you saw at our house was charged with a crime. But you know who was? We were. They've actually charged us with felonies for daring to defend our home," said Mark McKloskey.
Some of the sharpest attacks came from former Ambassador Nikki Haley and Donald Trump Jr.
"People of faith are under attack," Trump Jr. said. "You're not allowed to go to church, but mass chaos in the streets gets a pass. It's almost like this election is shaping up to be church, work and school versus rioting, looting and vandalism."
The theme for this opening night was "Land of Promise." Tuesday, it is "Land of Opportunity."